The Detroit Lions did a great job of signing key positions in the offseason, but failed to address the wide receiver position which is very weak right now with the departure of Titus Young and the significant injuries of Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles. With that said the, Lions will be taking a strong look at receivers in the early rounds, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw another receiver taken in the second by the Lions for the third straight year. Here is a look at five receivers who would fit well in the Lions’ offense:
1. Tavon Austin, West Virginia – Likely a top 15 pick Austin has the most dynamic skill set out of all the receivers in the class, and would be the perfect compliment to Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson, and Matthew Stafford. Whether Austin is used for kickoff and/or punt returns, screen passes, or a vertical threat down the field opposite of Calvin Johnson.
Of all the receivers that could be drafted by the Lions, Austin is the least likely because of his high draft stock. But there have been bigger draft day surprises, maybe the Lions find a way to acquire an additional first round pick? I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lions made a push to acquire him.
2. Justin Hunter, Tennessee – 6’4, 4.36 forty yard dash, Hunter has all the measurables you could look for in an NFL wide receiver. He’s a good route runner, has great hands, and was extremely productive at Tennessee, 1083 yards and 9 touchdowns, despite playing alongside first round prospect Cordarrelle Patterson. Only knock on Hunter is his small frame, 196 lbs. He’s going to need to add a good 20 lbs if he wants to keep himself on the field for a full 16 game season.
Hunter could finally be the answer the Lions were looking for when they drafted Titus Young in the 2011 draft, although I see much more potential and much less headache.
3. Aaron Dobson, Marshall – My favorite receiver not named Tavon Austin in the draft, Dobson has elite size, 6’3, 210 lbs, paired with excellent hands. He answered any questions about his speed at his pro day where he ran a 4.43 forty. Dobson is projected as a 3-4 round pick and could be a real steal, especially for a team like the Lions who have Calvin Johnson drawing all the attention.
I see a lot of big play potential in Dobson and a long NFL career if he’s in the right system and has the right nucleus. The Lions may be the perfect fit for him.
4. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee – Patterson is a great athlete. He ran the forty in 4.33 seconds, he’s got a great vertical jump, 37 inches, great footwork, he uses his upper body strength well when battling a jump ball, and he is extremely versatile. With that said, he’s not a great route runner, and I wonder how much upside he has compared to guys like Tavon Austin, who has even more versatility, and Justin Hunter, who’s taller and just as good of an athlete, but could be even better with some time in the weight room.
Many scouts compare Patterson to Dwayne Bowe, which is a pretty good comparison. However, when I look at this wide receiver class and evaluate how players would fit into the Lions’ offensive scheme I see better fits than Patterson and better value as well as Patterson is likely a first round selection, too rich for the Lions’ blood.
5. Robert Woods, USC – Woods best trait may be that he’s NFL ready. He’s got a solid frame 6’1, 201 lbs, solid hands, and is probably the best route runner in the receiving class. The problem I have with woods is that I don’t see him getting much better. That’s not a knock on Woods by any means, he’s got nice speed running the forty in 4.42 which can be very dangerous with his excellent route running, but this list is predicated off of the top five receivers for the Lions on draft day.
I just think Woods’ skill-set is too similar to Ryan Broyles and Nate Burleson for the Lions to take a shot at him, especially if Dobson or Hunter are on the board and I don’t see the size or the exceptional speed needed for him to be a serious threat down field.
In case you missed it, check out Aaron Dobson’s ridiculous catch last season.
Kind of reminds you of someone else (see video below) in college doesn’t it?